AURORA – Considerably shorthanded, the Geneva girls soccer team nonetheless had little trouble extending its dominant start to the season.
The Vikings cruised to a 4-0 win Saturday afternoon at West Aurora despite missing a handful of key players for various reasons, including Nebraska recruit Michaela Loebel (spring break conflict) and usual starting goalkeeper Samantha Hauser (illness). The victory marked Geneva's third straight shutout win to start the season.
The Vikings will try to ride that shutout streak as long as possible as Geneva prepares for its spring break trip to the St. Louis area next week.
"You never want to give up a goal up because then you're a little pressured to score more goals," Geneva midfielder Hope Goodman said. "But I trust our defense so well. And I trust Sam (Hauser), and then Emma (Harkleroad), our freshman, played really well today. We trust them back there so we just need to know that we have to do our part in getting the ball up the field and scoring."
The Vikings led, 3-0, at halftime behind goals from Megan Fitz, Allie Mikos and Mary Landry. Landry, who has scored in each of Geneva's three wins, assisted on Fitz's opening goal less than 8 minutes into the match.
The Vikings' early-season ability to sustain possession has stood out to both Goodman and Geneva coach Megan Owens.
"We possess the ball really well," Goodman said. "We might not get goals right away but we really pass and get a lot of shots off, which is really good."
"We're always looking to pass," Owens added. "Sometimes we've got to work on being a little bit more selfish and looking to turn and shoot, but we're very strong. They've been together, this group, for a long time."
The lone second-half goal came late when freshman Madeline Rapach Lagowski nicely timed a long, bouncing feed from Annie Waldoch for a successful header past Blackhawks goalkeeper Bailey Ziman.
The Blackhawks (1-1-2) weren't as shorthanded as Geneva from a player standpoint but West was down an assistant coach most of the match after the referee ejected assistant Kevin Briars without so much as showing a card. A teenage fan then appeared to be ejected for questioning the decision.
"I don't understand what happened but I knew I couldn't yell because both of us could not have gotten kicked out," Blackhawks head coach Laura Wagley said.
Harkleroad, called up from the JV because of Hauser's illness, made four saves in her Vikings debut.
"She played very, very well in goal for us, which was nice," Owens said. "It's nice when you have an underclassman who can step up and [play that strongly]."
Owens noted that Harkleroad has spring break plans for the upcoming week, meaning the Vikings could have a quandary in net if Hauser isn't available for the downstate trip, which starts with a match Thursday against Granite City.
What would the Vikings' Plan C be in goal?
"Coach Owens getting creative," Owens said.